A £5.4m project to ease diabolical traffic congestion on the busiest road in Bedford has been given the green light by the government.
Plans to improve the notorious Ampthill Road include an extra lane for cars, separate cycle and pedestrian routes running adjacent to the highway, and new high tech traffic signal systems.
The project, known as the Bedford Southern Gateway, was given the go-ahead this week.
Bedford Borough Council had put in a bid for just under £5million to the government, via the South East Midlands Local enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).
The rest of the cash – around £600,000 – will come from the council.
Ampthill Road’s traffic problems have been a thorn in the council’s side for years, with hundreds of motorists complaining that the congestion is unbearable.
Times & Citizen editor Olga Norford said: “This road is a bottleneck for Bedford, particularly at weekends when people are trying to get to the Interchange Park.
“The Cow Bridge junction causes terrible problems and often there is a three-mile -long queue of cars along the whole stretch of Ampthill Road.
“Along with every other motorist in Bedford, I welcome this improvement scheme with open arms.”
Bedford Borough Councillor Graeme Coombes, who represents Wixams and Wilstead, said: “Ampthill Road is infamous in driving motorists in despair with seemingly endless traffic and queues. At long last we have a scheme that has been given the green light with government funds.”
He added: “I am hopeful that the Southern Gateway project will significantly improve travel times in this area of the town, which can only be positive for Bedford residents and businesses.”
SEMLEP, which is responsible for driving economic growth in the region, was awarded a total of £59m for schemes throughout the south midlands.
It will now undertake a due diligence process to establish how much each scheme will receive.